The Ultimate Pixar Animated Film Guide: 2020 - 2024

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The Ultimate Pixar Animated Film Guide
1995-1999 | 2000-2004 | 2005-2009 | 2010-2014 | 2015-2019 | 2020-2024

Pixar is a company considered to create the epitome of computer animation, dominating the Academy Awards for their animated films. Following a period in which they had made numerous sequels, they announced plans to return to making more original films. Yet their first challenge was one that no-one could have foreseen when the film went into production as they experienced their very first financial flop.

The Films

The films made during this five year period are listed below, with recurring characters shown in Bold. This entry also states whether the films pass the Bechdel Test. This can be summarised as whether the film involves two or more female characters who have a conversation together that is not about men.

22. Onward (2020)

DirectorDan Scanlon

In a fantasy world where technology has replaced magic because technology is easier live the Lightfoot family whose father died before Ian died. On Ian's 16trh birthday he is given a wizard's staff, a powerful crystal and a spell that can reincarnate Ian's father for one day that can only work once. Ian tries to cast the spell, but only manages to reincarnate his father's legs before the crystal disintegrates. He and his brother Barley decide to find a replacement gem to let them complete the spell before the time runs out, heading for the Manticore's Tavern, the first step on their journey.

Will Ian and Barley succeed in their quest, and will they both develop as people and learn about themselves during the experience? Will their attempt to find magic in a world that has long gone without it encourage those around them to discover magic for themselves?

Length99 minutes
SettingNew Mushroomton, city in a fantasy world where technology has replaced magic
  • Ian Lightfoot, nervous 16-year-old elf whose father died before he was born (Tom Holland)
  • Barley Lightfoot, Ian's older brother who loves his van and role-playing games (Chris Pratt)
  • Laurel Lightfoot, Ian and Barley's mother (Julia Louis-Dreyfus)
  • Corey The Manticore, former firey tavern keeper, now restaurant owner (Octavia Spencer)
  • Colt Bronco, policeman and potential partner for Laurel (Mel Rodriguez)
  • Wilden Lightfoot, Ian and Barley's father and legs (Kyle Bornheimer)
  • Specter and Gore, police officers (Lena Waithe and Ali Wong)
  • Dewdrop, intimidating Pixie Duster Biker (Grey Griffin)
  • Grecklin, pawn shop owner (Tracey Ullman)
Music'Carried Me With You' by Brandi Carlile, Phil and Tim Hanseroth
Accompanying ShortPlaydate with Destiny (2020) – short film based on The Simpsons1
  • The Pizza Planet van appears by the Troll Booth, now renamed Pizza Realm
  • Triple Dent Gum is also mentioned
  • The police officers discuss that there is 'A 113 in progress' in reference to A113, a number appearing in each film.
  • The Pegasus logo on the van Guinevere can also be seen on the bouncy castle at the funfair in Toy Story 4
  • The calendar that Ian has shows a scene from Brave
  • There is a shop named 'Sword in the Scone'
  • The chef at Manticore's Tavern looks remarkably like Remy from Ratatouille
  • The hats worn in the tavern are inspired by Mickey's sorcerer's hat in Fantasia

One of the joys of the film is looking out for the other film references. There is a Burger Shire serving second breakfast in a reference to The Lord of the Rings and the appetite of hobbits, as well as Indiana Jones references. The film was inspired by Dan Scanlon's personal experience, as he had lost his father at a young age.

Although it saw rave reviews in the western world2, the film bombed at cinemas, recouping half the production budget. This was largely because it was released just before the 2020 Covid-19 outbreak spread worldwide. On its opening weekend cinema attendance was a small fraction of what would normally be expected across all films, and by the following weekend many key markets had taken steps to close all cinemas. Rather than plan to re-release the film later in the year once the outbreak had passed, Disney announced that Onward would be available on their newly-launched Disney+ online video-streaming service and used extensively to try and persuade households to subscribe during the period of social distancing and lockdown.

Sadly Onward's failure at the box office may have consequences, no matter how unfair. It has led to speculation that Pixar may well abandon their strategy on making new, original films and instead return to making more films based on established successes. There is also a belief that fantasy western animated films consistently flop, following such film financial failures as The Lord of the Rings Part One (1979) and The Black Cauldron (1985).

23. Soul (2020)

DirectorPete Docter

Joe is a music teacher who dreams of being a jazz pianist and one of his former students informs him that jazz legend Dorothea Williams is desperate for a pianist for a performance that night at a jazz club. After impressing her and getting the gig, he falls down a manhole and falls into a coma, becoming an untethered soul.

Joe finds himself heading to the Great Beyond but wishing to return to his life escapes to the Great Before where souls who have not yet lived exist. Impersonating a soul mentor designed to aid young souls he is assigned to soul 22 who is unwilling to live and does not have the spark that would permit her to be born. Joe and 22 agree that if he is able to give her the spark that would give her the pass to go to Earth she will give the pass to him.

After speaking to spiritual guru Moonwind, who still lives but can visit the spirit realm, an accident results in their falling to Earth with 22 in Joe's body and Joe trapped in the body of a therapy cat that had been next to Joe. Can Joe find his way back to his body and will 22 learn to accept life on Earth and finally want to live? Or will they be found by soul counter Terry

Length100 minutes
SettingNew York and the spirit world, both Great Beyond and Great Before
  • Joe Gardner, music teacher longing to be a jazz pianist whose soul finds itself in the afterlife (Jamie Foxx)
  • 22, a soul in the Great Before who doesn't want to live (Tina Fey)
  • Moonwind, sign twirler and spiritual guru (Graham Norton)
  • Curley, Joe's former pupil who is now Dorothea Williams' drummer (Questlove)
  • Libba Gardner, Joe's seamstress/tailor mother (Phylicia Rashad)
  • Dorothea Williams, famous jazz saxophonist head of Dorothea Williams' Quartet (Angela Bassett)
  • Soul counsellors all named Jerry (Richard Ayoade, Alice Braga, Wes Studi, Fortune Feimster and Zenobia Shroff)
  • Terry, soul accountant (Rachel House)
  • Dez, barber (Donnell Rawlings)
  • An Inside Out broccoli pizza appears.
  • The Pizza Planet van appear in the Hall of Everything
  • The Luxo Jnr lamp appears in the Hall of Everything
  • 22 has a spirit version of the Pixar ball.
  • 'Brang', the company Riley's dad works for, is advertised.
  • The stock market trader has the same Chinese takeaway as A Bug's Life, Ratatouille and Inside Out

Many of the mentor name stickers in 22's room are either famous inspirational figures or Pixar employees.

This film had been intended for a summer 2020 release but was delayed by the Covid-19 outbreak which closed cinemas worldwide. Despite a premiere at the London Film Festival it was released worldwide on Christmas Day 2020 on Disney+.

The Future

The Ultimate Pixar Animated Film Guide
1995-1999 | 2000-2004 | 2005-2009 | 2010-2014 | 2015-2019 | 2020-2024
1Disney having acquired the rights to The Simpsons following their purchase of 20th Century Fox in 2019.2The film was banned in many Middle Eastern countries as minor character Specter who only appears in one scene mentions that she has a girlfriend. In Russia the word was translated to mean 'partner' instead of 'girlfriend'.

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